The Black Ferns face England in their 100th Test at Exeter on Monday (New Zealand time). But what was it like when the women made their first test at the 1991 Rugby World Cup in Wales? Joseph Pearson Report.
The newspaper advertisement brought the first Test captain of the New Zealand rugby team to the match.
Helen Littleworth left the New Zealand hockey team, but will lead her country to her first Women’s Rugby World Cup in 1991.
However, the nine-day tournament in Wales was not officially recognized by the game’s governing body, World Rugby (then IRB) until 2009.
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“These are tough times because of the lack of recognition,” says Littleworth. Items.
Thirty years ago there was a lot of negativity: ‘Women should not play rugby because they get injured and hit in the chest.
“Things like that.”
The pioneering 1991 Kiwi women’s team, not known as the Black Fern as it is today, did not receive funding from the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) for the first World Cup on the other side of the world.
In fact, players had to pay $ 5,000 out of pocket (equivalent to about $ 8,900 in 2021).
Black Ferns legend Anna Richards, who has won four World Cups in her 49-Test career, was one of 26 who traveled with the late Larry O’Reilly, the first coach of the New Zealand rugby union team.
All these messages were sent asking if it was convenient for people to play. Richards, who was a lawyer at the time, said he had selected a team to go to the World Cup Items.
Littleworth says some players had to raise money in their community. Can not be tolerated by others.
We are accustomed to suffering. “It didn’t bother us,” he says.
“We got used to playing rugby shirts, with our club, it was played and not washed.”
Despite the lack of support, both Littleworth and Richards praised O’Reilly for “moving the mountains” in the purchase of gear and shirts after being invited to join the team.
“Lori has been a great inspiration and mentor and is very good at getting people’s support in the right places,” Littleworth said.
O’Reilly died of cancer in 1998. The O’Reilly Cup is competed by Black Ferns and is named after Australia.
Richards says the 1991 itinerary was “fun” as New Zealand played their first official Test at the 12-team World Cup.
New Zealand came in four teams of three with Canada and Wales. Teams advancing to the final had to complete four tests in nine days.
In today’s professional sport, a similar schedule is unimaginable at a time when the sciences of sports, leisure and recovery are so pervasive.
Rugby was a hobby until 1995 and was in great demand by many players who were involved in the sport a few years ago.
“We will travel and train the next day, then play and we will not have a week off to prepare for the next game and recover. Teams now travel in business class, ”says Richards.
“On your ass tour he’s pons-of-ass-on-on-on-on.”
Short form means athletes lose fewer jobs, and Littleworth, who studied physiotherapy in Dunedin, says they have to accept it.
“The hard part was playing a lot of games over several days, but we tried to show girls rugby,” he says.
“If we have to play four games in nine days, it’s awesome.”
Most currently known rugby nations, including Sweden, the Netherlands and the Soviet Union, took part.
The tournament was led by four women from the England Rugby Club Richmond – Deborah Griffin, Sue Torrington, Alice Cooper and Mary Forsyth – without the support of the governing bodies, the teams in the dormitories at Cardiff University.
The Soviet team came without money because they were not allowed to bring their own currency from the communist country.
Communities in Cardiff supported them with sweaters, cakes and shelters, but only after British tax authorities banned HMRC and Soviet soldiers from selling vodka and Russian toys on the streets to make money.
New Zealand’s first Test against Canada took place in Glamorgan on April 6, where they won 24-8, beating Wales 24-6 in Lanharin on April 10.
Two days later, they reached the semi-finals against the United States in Cardiff on April 12, but they lost to a strong and fit American team 7-0, beating England 19-6 in the final to win their first World Cup. In April. 14.
“Americans have been playing rugby for a while,” Littleworth says.
“I remember they were so great. They succeeded in the easy endeavor.
New Zealand will not return to the World Cup until 1998, the first of their five World Cups, as the 1994 tournament in Scotland was not recognized by the World Rugby team again. They were now under the financial umbrella of the NZRU, which did not send them, and became known as the Black Fern.
“We were devastated when we lost in the semifinals in 1991, and we wanted to go back and prove a point,” Richards said.
“Many of us didn’t play much in the first World Cup for many years. Since we didn’t go 94, I think I stayed and played for so long.
Richards, 45, retired after 19 years playing in five World Cups for the first time since winning the 2010 World Cup in England. He was inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame in 2014.
All blacks / YouTube
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The launch of Super Rugby Aupiki this month demonstrates the rapid growth of the women’s game following the continued support of NZ rugby over the years.
Creating players on semi-professional or professional contracts led to the steady success of Black Ferns on the world stage in the 1970s and ’15s.
“I wish I was 30 years younger. I’m jealous of the women I have now, “says Littleworth with a laugh.
“But it is gratifying to see women being respected for their talent in the sport. They are just as emotional as men.
The first Women’s Rugby World Cup in Wales in 1991
Group 1: New Zealand Canada, Wales
Group 2: France, Sweden, Japan
Group 3: United States, Netherlands and the Soviet Union
Group 4: England, Spain and Italy
In Group 1, New Zealand beat Canada 24-8 and Wales 24-6
Semi-final: New Zealand 0-7 USA; England 13-0 France
Last: USA 6-19 England
New Zealand team in 1991: Jacqueline Abiada, Miriam Baker, Shauna Ballinger, Debbie Chase, Donna Ivy, Mary Fitzgerald, Amanda Ford, Deborah Ford, Seoka Frost, Susan Gordon, Carol Hayes, Helen Littleworth (C), Anna Hobkin, Neroli Knight, Helen Mahon, Elsie Payde, Geraldine Paul, Erica Riri, Anna Richards, Kristen Root, Kristen Ross, Nina Seo, Kim Theory, Natasha Wong. Fitness Trainer: Larry O’Reilly.
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